Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

[pib] Haldibari – Chilahati Rail Link


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About the railway line

Mains level: Recent trends in India-Bangladesh ties

Ours and Bangladeshi PM has jointly inaugurated a railway link between Haldibari in India and Chilahati in Bangladesh.

Examine the opportunities and challenges in the adoption PPP model by the Indian Railways.

Haldibari – Chilahati Rail Link

  • This rail link being made functional is the 5th rail link between India and Bangladesh.
  • It was operational till 1965. This was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during partition.
  • Trains travelling to Assam and North Bengal continued to travel through the then East Pakistan territory even after partition.
  • For example, a train from Sealdah to Siliguri used to enter East Pakistan territory from Darshana and exit using the Haldibari – Chilahati link.
  • However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between India and the then East Pakistan.
  • So on the Eastern Sector of India partition of the railways thus happened in 1965.  So the importance of the reopening of this rail link can be well imagined.

A British-era legacy

  • The railway network of India and Bangladesh are mostly inherited from British Era Indian Railways.
  • After partition in 1947, 7 rail links were operational between India and the then East Pakistan (up to 1965). Presently, there are 4 operational rail links between India and Bangladesh.
  • They are, Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh),  Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh),  Radhikapur (India)–Birol (Bangladesh).

Benefits offered by the rail

  • The rail link will be beneficial for transit into Bangladesh from Assam and West Bengal.
  • It will enhance rail network access to the main ports, dry ports, and land borders to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region.
  • Common people and businessman of both countries will be able to reap the benefit of both goods and passenger traffic, once passenger trains are planned in this route.
  • With this new link coming into operation,  tourists from Bangladesh will be able to visit places like Darjeeling, Sikkim, Dooars apart from countries like Nepal, Bhutan etc easily.
  • Economic activities of these South Asian countries will also be benefitted from this new rail link.

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